Reading Rainbow broadcast rights end in August

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Reading Rainbow frequent winner of the national Emmy for children’s series, will leave the PBS satellite feed Aug. 28 and stations’ broadcast rights will end after a quarter century on public TV. No new episodes of the children’s program have been produced for several years and PBS removed the series from its weekday strip last fall to make room for new programs with reading and science/math content, according to producing station WNED in Buffalo. John Grant, chief content officer at the station, told Current that WNED doesn’t have the hundreds of thousands of dollars that would be needed to renew broadcast rights—primarily Writers Guild fees. Grant said WNED is talking with PBS about maintaining a version of the annual Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest, which still involves 96 stations. And he’d like to see new media used to create an online version. Classroom rights for the show remain with Educate Inc., the Baltimore-based company that owns the big tutoring chain Sylvan Learning Centers and the Hooked on Phonics learn-to-read system. DVDs also will be available through Shop PBS. WNED and Educate tried unsuccessfully to plan a revived broadcast but gave up, in part because of the recession, Grant said. Your comments welcomed.